Which living animal was born during Tudor times? asks Steve Canavan - Thursday. April 29, 2021
I met a bloke the other day who told me his cat got within three months of making the Guinness Book of World Record for oldest living moggy.
Sadly, just 17 days short if its 33rd birthday, the cat – named Dexter, in case you’re wondering – popped his clogs. I asked what the secret of its long life was and the fella replied, deadpan, ‘neglect’. Which means my cat should live forever.
Anyway, it got me thinking about what is currently the longest living cat (the fact I started thinking this gives you a real insight into how empty and hollow my life is) and also made me reflect on what a poor cat owner I’ve been.
I or my family have owned 10 moggies during my lifetime and not one has made it past its eighth birthday, mainly on account of them having a very shoddy knowledge of the green cross code. You’d have thought by now word would have got round the feline community that attempting to cross roads is not a great idea. Or at the very least, if they must insist on doing it, they’d have learned to look left and right before stepping out. (‘Hang on there Milo, don’t go yet, there’s a Volvo estate travelling towards us at speed. Milo. Milo? Oh no, not again…’)
But obviously some cats are a bit brighter than the ones we’ve owned - or perhaps live in the countryside where roads are few and far between – because many have lived to rather amazing ages.
The current oldest living one, it is reckoned, is a female cat in Thailand, which is still going strong at 34 despite having the quite ridiculous name of Great Grandma Waad.
She’s still got a way to go, though, to be beat the oldest cat of all time, a tabby with another dodgy moniker – Crème Puff – who expired at the ripe old age of 38 years and three days.
Puff, if I may address her by her surname, lived in Austin, Texas, and was owned by a bloke called Jake Perry who fed her dry cat food supplemented with broccoli, eggs, turkey, coffee with cream and – every other day – a spot of red wine. “It circulates the arteries,” claimed Perry. Whatever, Puff seemed very happy with the arrangement, though she was occasionally found passed out on a park bench in the town centre with a half-empty bottle of Merlot in her paws.
Another factor in Crème Puff’s longevity might have been the conditions in which she was kept. Perry converted his garage into a movie theatre which played nature documentaries (we can assume at this point Perry had very few friends) and turned his garden into a safe play park for his pets. Given these cushy conditions, it’s a surprise Puff didn’t live till her early 70s.
In comparison, human’s other great companion – dogs – don’t fare so well.
They rarely make it to 20, maybe as a result of being so stupid as to spend their lives chasing a ball and bringing it back to their owner 10,000 times a day, as opposed to taking a leaf out of a cat’s book and climbing on a settee and going to sleep for 14 hours. It’s a much less stressful lifestyle.
The oldest dog alive – though it might have changed since I started writing given its advancing years – is a 21-year-old miniature dachshund from Japan called Funny. The breed usually lives between 12 and 16 years, so Funny is doing pretty damn well.
The oldest dog of all time was called Bluey, an Australian cattle dog who worked on a farm for nearly 20 years – so a pretty tough lifestyle – but lived till he was 29. Pretty good going.
Now I know what you’re thinking at this point, that this column is rubbish. And you’d be right. But the fact you’re still reading tells me you’re at least vaguely interested – or have absolutely nothing better to do, one of the two - so I’ll crack on.
Here’s a good one. If someone asked what the world’s oldest known land animal is would you know? You’re about to.
It’s an Aldabra giant tortoise in St Helena, an island off West Africa, which is – and hold on to your hats here - 183-year-old. They eat grass, leaves and the odd apple (which does sound a lot healthier than red meat, cheese and ice cream, though not quite as tasty) and are only active for a few hours in the morning, then dig a burrow to sleep in for the rest of the day and night. Which seems a bit of a waste. I mean it’s all very well living the best part of 200 years but is it worth it if, asked on your deathbed to reflect on your life, all you can say is, ‘well, I ate leaves and slept’.
Crocodiles have a good innings. The oldest ever – called Mr Freshie, who chooses these names? – lived to be 140, which is particularly impressive given he was shot twice, in the tail and left eye, leaving him blind and badly injured.
Elephants live up to 86 years, making them one of the longest-living land mammals (as a general rule, larger creatures have a longer life expectancy, which means Peter Crouch should live ages) and parrots, did you know, are the only bird that can live longer than people, with a life expectancy of up to 100.
The world’s longest living mammal is the bowhead whale, found in the Arctic, which live for about 200 years, although that’s nothing compared to Icelandic clams which reside on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. The oldest documented age for a clam is 507, which means some of those alive now were born when Henry VIII was on the throne. Astonishing.
However, for every winner in life there is a loser, so before we depart let’s spare a thought for the female mayfly. They live for less than five minutes. They’re born, mate, lay eggs (400,000 in one go), and then pop their clogs, all in less time than it takes to cook a Marks and Spencer chicken chow mein ready meal.
Now there’s food for thought.
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